Typewriter and Polaroids

On a recent trip back from Singapore I watched a couple of documentaries on the flight.

The first one was called ‘Instant Dreams’ which was all about Polaroid Photography so I was in my absolute element watching this.

The second documentary I was drawn to watching was ‘California Typewriter’ which is about a Typewriter shop in California and people whose lives are connected by typewriters (including Tom Hanks who I discovered through this documentary that he is an avid typewriter collector).

I began to think how I would love to own a typewriter again. Being a child of the 1980s, I inevitably did own a typewriter back then which I remember being beige and brown that my parents had bought me at a car boot fair but I stopped using it once the ribbon ran out and my parents never bought a new one for it.

My mum also briefly owned an electronic typewriter when she did a typewriting course and I remember I used to practice her homework which helped me learn to touch-type. She eventually sold the typewriter onto a friend.

The documentary had re-ignited a love for typewriters and I knew I really wanted to get one but I kept thinking what would I use it for and could I really justify buying one?

Then I started to think about all the Polaroid photos I had been recently taking and how it would be quite nice to label the dull white frame ones.

Unfortunately for me, my hand writing is terrible and I just feel that it would really let the actual photo down if I just wrote on them.

I think at some point I must have subconsciously seen some polaroid photos that had been typewritten and thought about how I’d much prefer to do that.

I also like writing fiction and although it’s very easy to write it on a laptop, I do tend to get distracted by misspelling and re-reading, re-writing etc so like the thought of having a typewriter to be able to bash out the story (errors and all) without the distractions, then refine it on my laptop.

At this point I therefore felt I could justify getting a typewriter but I would be patient and wait until the right one came along rather than go out of my way to really look for one.

I don’t really have a lot of time to visit boot fairs etc and I also didn’t like the thought of buying a typewriter online as I wanted to try it first as I really do believe that you need to get a feel for it to see if you’ll work well with it.

Every now and again I like to visit a shop in Brighton called Snoopers Paradise as they are well known for selling second hand items and it’s not far from Zoing Image where I buy a lot of my camera film.

After popping to Zoing Image to get some film, I decided to pop in there and as luck would have it, Stall number 52, owned by a gentleman called Lexi, specialises in servicing and selling typewriters.

There were two typewriters I was interested in on his stall. The first one was a Triumph Tippa from the 1960s which was cream in colour. However, when I tried it out I quickly realised the keyboard was a ‘QWERTZ’ one which meant it was a German model so was no good to me. The standard British keyboard is ‘QWERTY’.

I also liked a blue Brother Model 200 typewriter from the 1970s which he also had for sale. I was particularly drawn to the font of this model which I think is a Pinta Typewriting Font and thought would look great on the Polaroid photos.

I tried out the Brother machine and really liked the feel of how it typed and it was in such an amazing condition, almost like it had never been used.

I really liked the colour of it and it was great that it had been serviced with a new ribbon so I could get typing on it straight away.

The typewriter cost me £30 and I personally feel I got a real bargain in view of the fantastic condition it is in.

Lexi was really helpful and also provided me with the original case which was immaculate and an original typewriter manual for the machine so I could easily learn how to use it without having to spend time looking online trying to find one.

If anybody is in the Brighton area and are looking for a typewriter, then I’d highly recommend visiting his stall.

I can honestly say I’ve not been disappointed by my purchase. I’ve been using the typewriter every day since I got it.

Here are a couple of Polaroid photos I’ve typewritten on so far. The first two were taken with Polaroid colour film:

The next three were taken with Polaroid 600 colour film which expired in 2009:

Polaroid Filter Kit

For the past week I’ve been trying out my recently purchased Polaroid Filter Kit for my Polaroid 600 camera and the Polaroid Originals 600 colour film.

I found this kit for sale on the Polaroid Originals website and since I like experimental colour photography, I knew this would be a great addition to my camera.

The filters come in a really nicely packaged box so I can continue to store them in there when they’re not in use. They also come with a velvet drawstring bag which I can put them in when I’m out and about:

The filter set contains the following:

  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Starburst
  • Multi-image 3
  • Multi-image 2

Here are some photos I took using the Blue filter:

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I wasn’t particularly impressed by the blue filter but I think in hindsight I had used the wrong things to photograph for this filter.

In the first picture I took a coastline photo where most of it is blue anyway (the sea and sky) so it looks like a pretty normal photo. As with the usual quirks of polaroid pictures, there are blemishes at the bottom of the photo which I actually think livens the photo up a bit otherwise it would have been extremely dull. The bottom part of the blemish almost looks sand like.

The next photo I attempted with the blue filter was of a green tree. Again, I didn’t feel particularly excited by this photo and thought it was rather dull. By this point I had got bored of trying out the blue filter. I’ll perhaps try it again when I find a subject with colours that have no elements of blue in them already.

Here is a photo I took with the Yellow filter:

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This colour is ok and I think it works well with the coastline but when I decide to use this filter again, I think I will need a particular idea in mind that I think will also work well with the yellow.

Here are some photos I took using the Red filter:

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As you can probably tell from the amount of photos I’ve taken, this was by far my most favourite filter to use. I initially thought the photos would come out red so didn’t think I’d like them, but when I discovered they actually come out as this cool pink colour I was over the moon with the results.

As you can see, I used a variety of different settings for my photos and I think the colour works well in all of them. You’ll also see there are again, some classic polaroid quirks (blemishes) at the bottom of some of the photos.

Here are a couple of photos I took using the orange filter:

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The orange is quite similar to the yellow filter although the colour is slightly darker and richer so I actually prefer the orange filter for this reason, hence why more photos were taken using it.

Here are some photos using the Mulit-Image 3 filter:

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Both images are of the coastline divided into three of the same image which I think looks quite cool and I’ll definitely be using this filter again.

I haven’t yet used the Multi-Image 2 or Starburst filters. The reason being that I haven’t yet found any particular subjects where I felt the need to use either of these but I’m sure I will at some point.

Overall, I’m really happy I purchased this filter set from Polaroid Originals. It gives a different style of photo to a bulk standard setting and since the limited edition colour photos such as the duo chrome from Polaroid Originals are few and far between, I think this is a good way of getting that colour fix I’m after if I’m unable to get hold of the duo chrome style films again which at some point will run out or get more expensive when there are less of them about.

I recently purchased some ‘Gold Frame’ polaroid 600 colour film so I’m keen to see how the filters may work with that as a contrast.

Polaroid 600 Camera

From my previous blog posts you’ll see that I’m a fan of instant film photography and currently own a Polaroid Snap and Leica Sofort instant cameras.

I love these two instant camera’s and use them a lot for taking photos on social occasions.

However, due to the size of the photo they produce, I never felt they quite matched up to a polaroid photo if I wanted to take some more artistic style photographs for potentially framing to show at home.

I feel quite nostalgic about vintage polaroid cameras’ due to the fact my parents took a majority of my baby photos on their polaroid camera. Unfortunately they no longer have the camera.

I decided to finally purchase a vintage polaroid camera when I discovered the Polaroid Pink Duochrome 600 film which really inspired my creativity.

The Impossible Project which changed their name last year to Polaroid Originals had produced several colours of this Duochrome style film as limited editions ranging from orange and black, yellow and black and blue and black.

Polaroid Originals have since discontinued all of these limited edition films but thankfully the Pink and Black Duochrome film is still available to purchase from Urban Outfitters in the UK.

Once I knew I could currently purchase this film I had to decide on a Polaroid Camera which was compatible with the 600 film.

After doing much research with the help of a book called ‘Polaroid the Missing Manual’ by Rhiannon Adam, I finally decided I would buy a box type vintage 600 model.

The main reasons I decided to get this style of camera was first of all, it’s compatible with the film type I wanted to use and secondly, it’s a camera I would be able to buy at a relatively low price compared to the new polaroid onestep cameras which retail for over £100 and the desirable folding cameras such as the SX-70 which can sell for over £200 for a good condition one.

I ended up winning an auction on eBay on a Polaroid 600 LMS (Light Management System) camera from around the 1980s which had been refurbished by the Impossible Project just over a year ago and is painted black and white which I really like.

I was slightly nervous, yet excited at the same time about the quality of the images this camera would produce since it is classed as one of the more basic polaroid cameras.

However, I was really pleased with these photos I took:

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I’m currently getting used to the camera and am still in the experimental stage regarding exposure. The picture above taken of Brighton Bandstand was made darker on the Polaroid camera by sliding the control on the front of the camera towards the black arrow. I decided to darken the photo because when I took the photo it was on a very sunny morning and I had seen from the Brighton West Pier photos I took previously that they had come out quite bright so there wasn’t as much detail as you can see in the photos below:

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The Duochrome film retails at £18.99 and there are only 8 photos in a pack which means it works out at over £2.00 per photo which is considerably more than fujifilm mini instax which is around 80p a photo.

Polaroid films used to contain 10 photos in a pack but due to the way it is currently produced and the thickness of each photo, they can only fit 8 photos into a pack. This means that ‘experimenting’ can work out quite costly.

Interestingly, although this is an instant camera, I’m finding that it is actually helping me practice being a patient person (which is something I lack most of the time). This is because I have to really think and plan each photo I take due to the cost of the film.

For instance, I knew that I would have to take a photo of the Brighton Bandstand in the early morning in the daylight before lots of people were up and about either visiting the bandstand or just generally walking around as I didn’t want to waste my film with any unwanted shots of people accidentally getting in my photo. I also had to plan a day when the weather would be reasonably nice and not raining.

Also, the photos don’t develop instantly as you may think. Once the picture is taken, the photo needs to be kept in the dark for at least 10 minutes to enable the picture to develop to it’s full potential. My refurbished camera has a camera shield frog tongue already installed into it to stop the picture being exposed to any light when it first comes out of the camera.

Lastly, I discovered that it can take up to 30 days for the chemicals within the Polaroid film to fully dry so it’s recommended that you don’t put the photos into a plastic photo album or picture frame for at least this amount of time.

For all these constraints, there is something very endearing and addictive I’m finding about taking Polaroid photos.

I’ve since ordered some more Pink Duochrome film, so again, I’m having to be patient whilst I wait for the film to arrive in the post.

Leica Sofort Instant Camera

Following on from my recent blog where I was discussing my Polaroid Snap Shot Instant camera that I’d owned for the past couple of years and the issues I had with the print quality of the photos, I decided I was due an upgrade.

I felt I could justify an upgrade of instant camera as I do use it regularly, especially when I’m out with friends or family.

Whilst I appreciate the cost of film can be quite pricey I do tend to use it carefully and for me personally, I tend to buy instant film every one to two months so the cost isn’t too expensive for me. My basic rule is that I try to shoot quality over quantity with film camera’s.

My upgrade came about when I discovered the Leica Sofort Instant camera for sale in the UK. Whilst I appreciate all camera’s are ‘tools’ I couldn’t help but fall in love with the look and design of this camera.

Since it’s a Leica, this obviously comes at a higher price compared to a lot of instant cameras out there. In the UK the cost of this camera ranges from £200 – £250 and that is for the basic camera. That doesn’t include the cost of the case, film or cool orange, mint and white camera strap.

The camera is currently sold in three colours….white, orange and mint. Personally for me, I absolutely love the orange one.

It uses the fuji instax mini film and also the leica version of this same mini film which is produced by fujifilm.

Whilst the camera isn’t fully manual, it does have a built in flash and has several shooting modes:

  • Macro
  • Bulb
  • Automatic
  • Self timer
  • Party and People
  • Sport and Action
  • Double Exposure
  • Selfie

So far, I’ve mainly shot in standard or party and people mode. I’ve found the photos of people to be very flattering and many of my friends have commented about how the photos make them look younger which they obviously love.

The instant film is easy to load and there is a digital counter on the back which tells you how many photos you have left in the camera which I find really helpful. The film comes in packs of 10.

I find the camera lightweight and very portable. It is slightly bigger than my polaroid snap so doesn’t always fit into my smaller handbags but the cool strap enables me to wear it over my shoulder like a handbag.

There are two colour cases available for this camera in black and brown with a white canvas section on the side parts of the case. Again the cases aren’t overly cheap and retail for around £19 in the UK. However, I was pleased with the quality of the case.

I bought the brown case as I felt this colour complimented the orange shade of camera I owned.

The camera comes with a black Leica neck strap but I didn’t feel this colour went with my orange camera and didn’t look anywhere near as cool as the orange, mint and white strap. I therefore purchased the other strap for around £15 in the UK.

I was very impressed at how quickly the photos came out of my camera in comparison to the Polaroid Snap. The quality of the pictures are a million times better than the zinc  printed paper in my opinion and I’m very happy I decided to opt for an instant camera with this type of film.

The downside to this type of instant camera is that you cannot choose between colour and black and white photo modes like I could on the Polaroid Snap. To do this, I either have to load the camera with colour photos or black and white photos then use up 10 shots before I can change the colour. I can also only print one photo at a time as it doesn’t have different style modes, like the Photo Booth option on the Polaroid Snap. However, the picture quality more than makes up for this.

I tend to use the Leica colour film over the own named fujifilm. There have been many arguments that they’re exactly the same, just with Leica noted on the back of the film prints instead of fujifilm. I personally have found that the Leica film produces a warmer colour picture which I prefer.

However, on the black and white photos, I actually prefer the fujifilm brand over the Leica one because I think the photos are slightly cooler in tone which I personally prefer.

I’m sure there are many people who disagree with me about the difference in the film quality but I’m going from my own personal experience of shooting with both of these brands of films.

I tend to buy my Leica colour instant film online from Harrison Cameras as they currently sell a pack of 20 (2 x packs of 10) for £16.00. I can buy my black and white normal fujifilm from any local camera shop since I prefer the own brand of that to the Leica one.

I won’t deny it, this camera was definitely a luxury treat to myself and I’m sure the fujifilm camera’s take just as good photos for the fraction of the price of this camera but I have to be honest and say the look of this camera was what I loved.

I also loved the fact it was a Leica (admittedly not a German produced high quality Leica) but then it would have cost even more if it had been produced in Germany with all metal casing etc.

Ultimately this camera is great fun, is a great conversation point at a party and I’ve had much fun taking photo’s with it. I love the cool retro design and the fact it’s not too bulky to take out with me like a full size Polaroid camera would be.

I certainly don’t regret my purchase and can see me using this camera for many years to come.

Here are some instant photos I took at a family party this year:

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Here is an instant photo I took of the steering wheel of my friend’s 1965 Mustang:

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Polaroid Snap Instant Camera

I first discovered this camera a couple of years ago when I wanted to get an instant camera for various social events.

I had been to a few social gatherings where some friends of mine were using the Fujifilm Instax Mini instant camera and I really thought it was lovely that I was able to take home an instant picture of the occasion.

Prior to that I hadn’t really thought about instant photos except for the old polaroid instant cameras which were used by my family during the 70s/80s.

I therefore started looking into the types of instant cameras that were available but at a reasonable price as I wasn’t sure how often I would actually use it so didn’t want to spend a small fortune only for it to end up sitting in a drawer several months later.

Whilst looking at the various styles I really liked the look of the Polaroid Snap Cameras as their style really reminded me of the late 70s / early 80s with the colourful rainbow stripe across it.

These cameras come in various colours but were quite pricey at the time (around £105 I recall) which was a little higher than I really wanted to pay. However, to my luck, the pink version suddenly came up in a sale at Urban Outfitters and was reduced to around £49.99. At that price I decided to buy it and it really helped that I loved the pink colour any way (the other colours remained at full price).

I also loved the fact that a really cool case in different colours had been designed for the camera and I bought a contrast white one from Argos for around £15.

What I love about this camera is that it has a magnetic lens protector and it’s very much the same weight of a compact camera so can easily be carried in a handbag on a night out. It has a viewfinder which pops up when pressed up and then closes back into camera when not in use.

What I wasn’t so keen on when I started using it was the type of photo quality you get. This is because the camera uses ZINK Zero-Ink Printing Technology. I found the colour quality to be rather hit and miss.

You can select 3 different types of colour options on top of the camera from full colour, to slightly muted colour and black and white. You can also select a style of print from normal frame, to a border frame and a 4 frame photo (like a Photo Booth) where the camera takes four shots rather than a single one and prints it onto the same piece of paper.

The other downside to this camera is that it doesn’t let you know how many prints are remaining (there are 10 per pack) so unless you keep count (which I struggled to do when at a busy party), I would find myself taking a further picture for it finally to flash at me to state there was no more film and the instant photo moment would have passed so that kind of defeats the object of being an instant camera.

Also, the zinc paper does take a while to print and slowly comes out of the camera so it’s not particularly ‘instant’.

For all it’s faults, it certainly has provided great entertainment over the past few years and I’m pleased that I’ve got full use out of it and it hasn’t sat in a drawer as I worried it may do.

Personally though, I’m pleased I got it for the price I did and didn’t pay the original price as to me, I’m not sure I could have justified it for the print quality of the photos and the inconsistency of not knowing if I have enough paper in there for the photo.

The Zinc paper is cheaper overall per photo than the likes of fujifilm instant film so that is where I think the compromise is.

Since I bought this camera, it has reduced in price to around £69.99 – £89.99. This is because Polaroid have now brought out a newer model called the Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Camera with an LCD Screen so you can digitally view the picture on the back of the camera before you print it. There is also bluetooth connectivity and the newer model takes an SD card up to 128gb, which enables you to continue to take photos even if you run out of paper and print them later. This newer model currently retails for around £149.99.

Below are some photos I’ve taken so you can decide for yourself the quality of the images: